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In the Firebird books, Tyers created a race of people analogous to the Jews, who knew that someday they'd produce a Messiah (Bo-Dabar) to save mankind, but in the meantime their race was hated and feared for no good reason. (Yay for the frailty of human nature.) In this story, the Messiah finally arrives, and is a surprise to everyone. This is chiefly because the "line" through which he was to be born was thought to be down to just a couple of contenders, and it was neither of them; meanwhile, the one person who shouldn't have been able to give birth to anyone (she was in a sort of convent) had also, unknown to anyone had a baby...he shows up in the clothes of an ordinary laborer and performs a few large-scale miracles on the spot, and the miracles get bigger as the story progresses.
Again, Tyers picks an outsider as the major viewpoint character. Meris Cariole has been a privileged child of the Federacy all her life, suddenly disinherited when she picked the medical field rather than the political career her father intended for her. Faced with a lack of funds, she hitches a ride with her friend Annalah Caldwell (Kiel's daughter) on the Daystar to get to her internship. But a deadly radiation accident forces the ship to make an unexpected stop at Procyel, a sanctuary planet for Sentinels. Meris shares her family's prejudice toward Sentinels; her friendship with Annalah would never have happened if Annalah had been "normal," but Annalah had had brain surgery as a child which erased her ability to read minds. So Meris likes Sentinels who can't read minds, but none of the rest of the race. Consequently, she thinks it would be great if the rest of the Sentinels could have brain surgery too, whether they want to or not. She looks with condescension and smugness on their ancient religion which--gasp!--is centered on a supernatural being, as if anyone could believe that. Meris is pretty much what we would call a humanist, whose major belief is in self-actualization. She repeats constant litanies to herself so she can feel "empowered" and wishes the rest of these Sentinels would ditch their outdated religion and do litanies with her.
Meris would be easier to like if she weren't so smug, but of course it's also fun to watch as the smugness begins to evaporate, overcome by things she cannot rationalize away. And Jorah is a strange one. This character is introduced as a sort of anti-Bo-Dabar, but then the idea is quickly discarded, and he becomes almost a lost character as he is torn between the sudden shock of "my father's dead!" and dawning realization, "hey, this Meris chick is hot." What in tunket is up with that? Do real people think that way?
Other characters are drawn in varying degrees. Kinnor and Kiel are as hard-to-get-along-with as they were in the previous book, and we still don't know why they never got along as kids since their childhoods are only briefly alluded to and never enough to allow us to draw satisfactory conclusions. Characters who played a large part in the Firebird trilogy bounce in for a cameo and out again in dizzying fashion, giving us barely time to remember who they were before disappearing again. Still others are reduced to smoking rubble and we don't even get a chance to mourn them.
And again, Tyers misses some major opportunities. There are places in the book that should have made me shiver but instead rated merely a tingle. For example (spoiler alert!)...Kinnor.
Tavkel, the self-proclaimed Bo-Dabar, prophecies that Kinnor returns to the planet of Tallis, he will die there. We are told Kinnor returned to the planet, and told--only told--that he was executed. His desiccated corpse is returned to Pryocel for burial, and Tavkel resurrects it. The resurrection is a powerful scene, but it would have meant more--oh, so much more!--if Tyers had SHOWN us Kinnor's execution. If we'd seen his last movements, heard his last thoughts, how much more would his first thoughts on his resurrection have meant? This omission hurts the story, and I can't figure out why she did it this way. It can't be to keep the POV of Meris, because Tyers was constantly going back to show us the tiresome character of Chancellor Gambrel. Since he's the one who would have sentenced Kinnor to die, Tyers could have alternated between him and Kinnor to show the execution. It would have been utterly satisfying that way...but she missed the opportunity. It's too bad.
In spite of that and a few other missed moments, it's still a fun story and a wonderful AU idea of the messiah story, much better written than "Wind and Shadow," and Tyers must have taken a few grammar classes in between "Firebird" and this book since grammar problems in the previous books seem to have been worked out. I'll probably read this one again.
I was a little disappointed. After Kathy Tyres' earlier books, this one seemed boring, for most of the book. I found the character Kinnor Caldwell, while supposed to be the hero, very cold, calculating, and difficult to root for. Ditto in this book, but he shows some redeeming qualities at the end. Again, disappointing, because after reading about the birth of the twins Kiel and Kinnor, I was excited to read about what kind of adults they had turned into.
Nevertheless, I'm giving this five stars because this was still a great series overall, and the final book ties it all up nicely. As a writer myself, I realize that you can't please everyone, all the time. So I'm giving it five stars. I recommend reading the series from the beginning, it will make more sense to you.
I really enjoyed Tyers' premise that God would not do things exactly the same way twice. This book describes the coming of a redeemer of humanity and the attempts of demons to disrupt that redemption. She tells her story well and I appreciated her pictures of how humans tend to fight against things that don't quite go the way we want or expect. I felt that she characterized humanity and the struggle for (and against) redemption very well. The tail end of the novel I felt was perhaps the weakest part of the book, but it was still an enjoyable piece of speculative fiction. I won't go into more details so I don't give away spoilers.
I would recommend this book to people who were looking for speculative or science fiction with strong religious (specifically Christian) underpinnings. If you have enjoyed other books by Tyers, you will enjoy this one, too.
I think after having been exposed to such depth of character in the FireBird Trilogy (the special abilities, the love story, the action), this story was somewhat of a letdown. If the main character's story was going to be weak, then i would have expected more emphasis on the Messiah figure, however that character's storyline was barely touched. I wanted to connect with someone, anyone, but just couldnt find any motivation. Even FireBird and her husband were too distant in the storyline. I will say that the surrounding plot was good, very detailed, very interesting but not the characters.